In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, I’m having flashbacks to a windy day in Milwaukee, in 1999.
I’m sitting in the living room of a couple of my wife’s friends, having appetizers and wine. Chippendale furniture rides an Oriental rug, and everything is perfect. We shall chat of the day’s news. Construction continues on Miller Park, Milwaukee’s gleaming, private, luxury-box stuffed replacement for “Milwaukee County Stadium,” in spite of the “accident.”
It seems a Supervisor on the crew responsible for lifting the 400 ton segments of the roof chose to “fly” one of these panels in 30-mile-per-hour wind, well above the approved safety limits**.
“How could wind catch it? It’s just a lattice of iron, right?” our host asked.
“Sure, but at the right angle, those pipes effectively form a ‘sail,’ catching wind,” I replied.
As certain as aerodynamic science, the wind caught the panel, overloading the crane. It buckled, dropping the roof section atop the partially built stadium, killing three iron workers.
“Well, I guess that’s the price we pay to get things built,” the host jibed, reaching for more crackers and brie.
My stomach sank. The price WE pay? There are three families without fathers and wage earners because of this, and you see it as just another cost of doing business?
Yes, that’s just the way it is. When the wealthy want a new ball park with revenue generating luxury boxes; when all of the revenue potential is shifted from the County to the private ownership of the team; when construction funding will be provided by a sales tax levied on ALL residents of the surrounding five counties, even if only a very small number of their citizens attend games; when that tax will be continued beyond its promised expiration date;
We simply have to accept a few people will be killed by a negligent contractor prioritizing profit over safety. That’s just the way it is. You have to break a few eggs to make an omelette.
I saw inside how they think, because my host thought I was one of the club.
So, here we are awaiting President Trump’s inauguration.
A man unwittingly caught on videotape talking to someone “inside the club,” singing the praises of how celebrity enabled him to sexually assault women with impunity.
A man famous for building gleaming buildings, while not paying contractors.
A man with business acumen to run casinos into the ground, then bail himself out on the backs of investors, public bankruptcy laws and tax loopholes stretched to the breaking point.
A man endorsed by white nationalist racists, the KKK and David Duke.
This man will soon be put in charge of “rebuilding America.”
I feel the wind blowing already.
**A detailed documentary on the case was produced by the lawyers who secured $94.5 in punitive damages against the crane company; the families still don’t have fathers.